COUNCILLORS have delayed a decision on an Innerleithen man’s bid to build a house on one of the town’s many green spaces.

Raymond Keddie, of Damside, Innerleithen, has previously had his initial plans to build a house on the corner of Maxwell Street and Damside refused by Scottish Borders Council’s planning department, but has now appealed to the local authority’s local review body for a second hearing.

However, councillors sitting on Scottish Borders Council’s local review body, which met on Monday, delayed the proposal as they felt they needed more information on the previous use of the land.

The plans for the currently empty site have been met with six objections from local residents, who highlight the loss of an historic green space and overdevelopment as chief amongst their concerns.

Council officers initially rejected the proposals as they believe the loss of greenspace will have a “detrimental impact on the townscape”, and are still recommending the appeal is rejected.

In a report to councillors, the council’s planning officer Lucy Hoad writes: “The local community has raised concerns over the development of the site, regarding it to be an important historic open space contributing to the character and appearance of the Innerleithen conservation area.

“The residents advised that a path used by the public ran diagonally through the site but has since been rerouted around the perimeter.

“Further concerns raised by residents relate to the impact on services and residential amenity.

“The applicant has submitted additional information to contend that outbuildings occupied the application site as some point in the past.

“However, more recent records indicate that the application site is regarded as being a long established open area that makes a positive contribution to the established character of the conservation area.

“The proposed development at this site would be contrary to the local development plan in that development of this area of green space will have a detrimental impact on the townscape structure of the settlement and the special character and appearance of the conservation area.”

Mr Keddie has also submitted his own statement to the local review body highlighting the previous use of the land.

It reads: “A photo of Damside from circa 1900 shows that prior to the opening of the Maxwell Street school this site had indeed contained a workshop, outbuildings and what looks like a dry stone wall.

“Ms Hoad, in her report, dismisses this information as being historical, but that more recent records show this is a green space.

“I would like this evidence reviewed, as it is evident that this site was never, and never has been, defined a green space, other than it now forms a gap site following the demolition of the buildings to form Maxwell Street.

“It has been stated on previous application refusals and Ms Hoad’s report that the land is of great importance to the community.

“I refute this statement on the basis that the erection of the fence on this area of land was necessitated by local residents allowing their pets to defecate on this land.

“I would propose that turning the site into a residence would be a better use of the space and ultimately better valued.”

Councillors have now instructed officers to author a detailed report on the historic uses of the land, and whether it qualifies as green space under Scottish Borders Council’s planning policy.

The local review body is due to meet again on April 15, when the application will be deliberated upon.